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Preview: with this ring, i thee obsess

with this ring, i thee obsess

Updated: 2017-07-14T08:48:19.990-05:00


Cheap and Easy Abstract Art


Over a year ago, I decided to try my hand at some mid-century inspired art for my fireplace.{Photos from Casa Sugar} It seemed simple enough and I excitedly picked up a canvas back in the fall. And then it sat there for six months. As I always do in the spring, I got a bug up my butt to get my apartment in order and decided to finally give it a try. I followed the advice I read on Oh Happy Day! and practiced on a small canvas. It looked like total crap. Then I remembered a decoupage canvas that I spotted in HGTV Magazine while on a flight: {Source: HGTV Magazine} I may not be able to control a paintbrush, but I could tear up paper, right? The next day, I ran to Paper Source and bought every color of tissue that they sell. Then I went to town with some Modge Podge.The big orange piece reminded of that giant fat cat photo, so I tried layering some big pieces on it. Ha! He's still there.And here's the finished product:As cheese as it is, I totally love it! It brings some much, much needed color to that dreary, light-less corner. Even Andy was surprised by how it turned out. He admitted to some doubt when he arrived home from the gym and saw me standing in a pile of shredded tissue paper. You can see some of the inspiration that I pinned here.[...]

Happy Easter Birthday to You


We celebrated three birthdays on Easter...


...with Easter bunnies and party hats!

40th Birthday Tea for LP


My bestie planned an afternoon tea for herself in honor of her birthday back in January. I snuck in a little early and did it up right with party hat menus and flowers in her favorite colors. And, of course, plenty of cute and embarrassing photos, courtesy of her mom and my old snapfish account. They showed off her perm and puka shell necklace, cheerleading days, and mall portraits of years gone by. But this one was my favorite: These menus were a m*&%#$)! @%*' labor of love. They started out as party hats and several late nights and tearful fits later, I ended up with these square cards. For her gift, my friend and I pitched to give her a few things to help in her persuit of her favorite things:Sunshine: a monogrammed beach bag and beach towel,Inner Peace: a gift certificate to bloom yoga studio, a line-a-day journal and a 7-year pen, and Good Food: a gift certificate to her favorite veggie diner.  Also, because I'm insane. I whipped some personalized stationery for her 10 minutes AFTER I was supposed to be getting in the shower. (I am probably being dramatic on that.)[...]

Gondola Place Cards


We celebrated Gnocchi Night this past Saturday. I watched the Rick Steves episode on Venice the weekend before, so I was in a gondola mood when I made these place cards.

These went through SEVERAL variations before I settled on the final product. I tried using shredded crepe paper for the seats, which led to this conversation:
Tina: "Does this look like an opulent gondola or a submarine on fire?"

Andy: "It looks like a Viking ship that is in serious trouble."

Tina: "Damn. What do I do to make them opulent?"

Andy: "I don't know. But not that. Put these on. They'll help."
I finally gave in and cut some boring seats, but wanted to do something special for the birthday guests. I was trying to tie some paper balloons to them (Harder then it sounds. Believe me.) when it hit me. A  FULL OF BALLOONS! Now *that* is a world that I want to live in. I just need to learn Italian to make it happen. And take someone to Venice for their birthday.

Gnocchi Nights Past: 2011, 2012

Homemade Stationery Gift Set


I drew my sister-in-law's name in the family grab bag this Christmas. She asked for a personalized stamp, which I scored on sale. Since I had some extra change, I decided to gocco print some stationery for her. BUT, I didn't know which name to use - her first name, which she uses at work and with friends, her middle name, which she uses with family, or her formal name, which she uses with her students. So I decided to do all three! I checked with a friend for reassurance that it wasn't tacky to gift someone with inkjet printed note cards, and then hopped on it. I L-O-V-E how everything turned out. This was one of my two fave gifts we gave this season.

I assembled everything in a storage box from Paper Source.

I used mini file folders to organize the designs.

I think that receiving such a cute card from your child's teacher might soften the blow of hearing that he/she is an asshole, no? Ha!

Bachelorette Party Invites


These bachelorette party invitations are from my friend's party in the fall. I had the idea, but a while later went on pinterest and saw that many other people did as well. Like everything.The bride is an artist and we were taking a painting class, so I wanted to do some watercolor invites. BUT, my not being an artist threw a loop in that plan. I took a watercolor painting I had from a friend's 4-year old daughter and photocopied onto fine white paper for the cover. Then, I printed the details on plain green paper, cut both pieces on the Silhouette SD, and glued them together. Pretty cute!I also made some "wine charms" to match.Our class was at Bottle & Bottega. It was nice, but I felt too rushed to really do anything. And I think that you need the right crowd, as the process stresses out people who don't consider themselves creative. My painted went through three variations before I lost interest. I still need to work on it. [...]

Happy 2013!


Happy 2013, Everyone! I hope you enjoyed a happy, safe holiday season. Andy and I toasted the season's end in what has become our NYE tradition -- surf and turf and some good wine. Andy upped the celebration this year by deeming "yoga pants" and "make-up free faces" acceptable dinner attire. (I didn't even ask! Love him!) I may not have dressed myself, but I did dress the table!

The color-scheme was inspired by my new vase from Crate & Barrel, which was my present in the family grab bag. The theme was cheap, easy, and low-effort.

Five minutes before dinner, I decided we needed place cards. Not bad for last minute!

Andy said this was his favorite table of the season. Hooray!

{Paper, Parties} Wreath Place Cards


Remember when I said that we had set a record for the number of guests in our place at the December Birthdays Party? Well, we blew it out of the water the following Saturday when we had 22 people here, including 15 adults and 17 kids.

This was my first foray into "letting go" and using Chinette and plastic silverware instead of dropping change on extra dishes and silverware. As ridiculous as it is, I am totally proud of myself for that. But I did hide the silverware UNDER the towels so that I wouldn't die every time I walked by it.

This party's theme was "wreaths. Very simple wreaths, as putting "berries" on them was averaging 10 minutes/piece, so I stopped after 1.5 wreathes.

I also made wreath wine "charms" and little menus for each seat. Since we live in a postage stamp, we decided to plate the food. Each guest marked their food selections and handed them off to us like a pair of short order cooks. 

Does this look familiar? I had an idea involving felt wreaths and pillar candles, but going to Michael's on weekends frightens me.

{Parties} Office Christmas Party


I whipped up a quick Christmas party for my officemates. We scored the Cityscape bar a few hours before it opened to the public, ordered some pizzzas, and hung out and enjoyed the company and the the views.I was decorating this out-of-pocket, so I tried to do it on the somewhat cheap with tissue paper flowers, personal decorations, and cute Christmas crackers and cupcake flags from Mara-Mi. The cupcakes were from Sugar Bliss, of course. Their "hot chocolate" cupcake is like pure crack to me. Or at least what I think crack would be like.The views are so amazing.[...]

{Paper, Parties} Oh, By Gosh, By Golly, It's Time for Mistletoe and Holly


We celebrated our family's December birthdays at our place...with a houseful of people! Twelve adults and four kids was our (then) record for guests.I had been hemming and hawing and brainstorming for an affordable idea for this table for over a month and ended up putting it together with things that I had around the house an hour before guests arrived. Andy and I found these antique candlesticks at an antique store in Wisconsin over the summer. I was so excited to see that they hold the electric "candles" that I bought a few years ago and never got to use. The flowers were a holiday bouquet from the grocery store. Andy was so proud of himself for picking them out.I learned the hard way at Halloween that no one pays attention to photo or numbered wine charms. I used my Silhouette to cut personalized "wine charms" for everyone. They were brilliant.But the place cards...they're definitely in my top 5 of all time. I loved them!Each guest had a unique-ish design. I had 14 in total.Even the kids got place cards - although, not a single one of them cared.[...]

{Paper, Parties} Global Warming-Inappropriate** Birthday Party Photo Place Cards


Christmas has been in full swing up in here -- even a 2.5 week battle with bronchitis* and sinusitis couldn't even bring us down this season. The real fun begins this week.The first of seven parties that we attended this month was a celebration of my mother-in-law, who turned a number that shall not be named. We celebrated at Chicago Cut, as is our sorta-milestone-tradition, with our other sorta-traditions, photo place cards and cake.The cake was from Sugar Bliss. I *totally* recommend them! I scored the parrot tulips at the deli in the East Bank Club. How lucky was that? I was way too sick to walk to a real florist.I made the cake topper by layering die-cut snowflakes with 3D foam squares and attaching them to wooden skewers. Not ideal, but it worked in a 2 a.m.-the-night-before pinch.For the place cards, I used my Silhouette to cut 5.5 circles with the guest's name and a hole for the photo. Then, I inserted the photo and some shiny white paper behind the name. I attached the entire piece to an ornament card and embellished it with an off-white ribbon and more shiny white die-cut snowflakes. The napkins are cheapos from Home Goods. They're OK. They shrunk to cocktail napkins in the wash.*I am pretty sure that I broke or pulled something major when coughing. **When Andy and I selected this not-to-Christmas Christmas snowflake theme back in October, we weren't expecting it to be 60 degrees in December. [...]

Thanksgiving Place Cards


I woke up on Thanksgiving morning and decided that my mother's table needed some place cards. Oddly enough, I had turkey cards and plenty of jewel-toned place cards and paper in my stash. I grabbed some streamers that I had laying around and whipped these up while watching the parade and getting the stink eye from Andy, re: my getting into the damn shower already.

Annual Halloween Dinner - 2012


We hosted our parents and Aunt Ruth for the annual Halloween dinner on Sunday. This year's place card theme was witches flying in the foggy night. The glitter was a very stupid good idea.   Andy cooked from 9 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. a few days before and made a spectacular meal out of a few of our favorites. Click to view our previous Halloween dinners: 2009 (ghosts and bats), 2010 (bats), and 2011 (jack-o-lanterns).[...]

Our Wedding Stationery


To celebrate the fourth anniversary of our wedding, I thought that I'd share some "real" photos of our wedding invitations, programs, and a few other paper products recently photographed by Laura of FMN Design for our wedding album. Creating these items for our wedding was a labor of love and as much of a fond memory of our engagement as all of the Andy-time, parties, and generosity from loved ones.Save the DatesInvitationsCeremony ProgramsCoat Check Tags and Food CardsYou can see my other paper products in my recaps: misc. paper, out-of-town bags, guest book, and favors.[...]

France 2011: La Roque-Gageac and Beynac


On our first full day in the Dordogne, we visited La Rogue-Gageac and Beynac. Since we rolled into town in the evening, I quite literally had no idea of the visual feast that awaited us just around the bend from our hotel. Enjoying paninis riverside.   It was supposed to be cool (it was anything but), so we didn't pack any shorts or bathing suits for canoeing. One of my biggest regrets of the trip. The Dordogne River was crystal clear and SHALLOW! My favorite type of water! :) We ventured to the top of the town and paid 9 EU each to enter the Jardi de Exotique, which turned out to be a two block long row of different bamboo varieties. #forrealsWe also found some Andy-sized leaves!There was some good people-watching in the this man. Who wasn't running or practicing ballet. You should have seen the front of his pants. #blushNext we headed up the road to Beynac, which was, for me, one of the greatest surprises of the trip.Taking the picture below still didn't phase me as to what I was up against.This was actually Andy's position for most of the trip...sitting on the side or in shade waiting for me to take photos. But, he most likely put two-and-two together at the bottom of the hill and was saving energy like a hibernating bear.I loved these 200+ year old roofs, which are now apparently, a novelty for the wealthy French. At this point, the grade was pretty weak.You can't swing a cat without hitting a castle.I sent Andy back to the car with my purse to feed the meter, while I hung back and took 54 photos in eight minutes. Once again, I had no idea what was awaiting me around the (very steep) bend.That is a real sidewalk. And this is when I realized that my shoes sucked.See that little gray door on the left near the center of the photograph? Look how low it is and it's just about 150 feet from where I am standing to take this photo!Andy overheard some German man saying in English, "Man, good for that big guy for making it this far." as he walked by him.Seriously, the view CONSTANTLY got better.This is what all of your self-portraits look like when there is a nine-inch height difference. We have approximately 13 versions of this shot from throughout the trip.And, at the top, we found Château de Beynac!It was creepy and hulking, just like a castle should be. And it had Andy-sized doors! First the leaves, now the doors? We should move to France. (As you can see, he's a good sport, as his height amuses me much more than it does him.)If you've seen one mediocre vacation photo of a castle, you've seen them all. Here are a few of my fave from the inside.I had Andy go downstairs and take my picture at the top. While I was waiting for him, a tour guide in a beret came out and chased me around the top spanking me with these weird sticks and laughing. And I have no idea why. Oddly, this is the second time that I've been spanked in a castle. The last time was by a geisha in Japan, which is not nearly as dirty as it sounds. I just put my shoes on too soon. I am installing this set-up if I ever have to park on the street in the city again.  There was a really interesting-looking cemetery just outside of the castle. I always like to photograph cemeteries to see if ghosts will show up later. (Ha! It *could* happen someday.) I always say a prayer, because it feels like I'm infringing on their privacy to be looking at all.We wrapped up this magical day with a meal at a Michelin star restaurant back in our little home base, La Belle Etoile. It was spectacular. You couldn't avoid foie gras, as it was literally served with every single dish. I tried a little and decided that a little goes a long least for me! [...]

France 2011: ORD > CDG > BVE


Last Labor Day week, we took a jet plane to Paris for 10 days of adventures and memory-making. I've been playing, "This time last year, we were..." in my head all week. Because I always love reading people's travel posts, I thought that I'd share some recaps from our trip - even though they're a year overdo. (You can see our album in its entirety here if you're interested.)We left Chicago on Monday evening and arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning, then hopped in a cab to Gare d'Austerlitz. Actually, I mispronounced Gare d'Austerlitz, so we first went to Gare de l'est and then went to d'Austerlitz 65 EU later.We had a 4.50 hour wait for train to Brive, so I busied myself by pacing and taking photos while Andy watched the bags and wondered how I talked him into waiting over four hours to take a three hour train ride after an eight and a half hour flight. My first meal in Paris was sour Eiffel Tower gummies.  We took a train to Brive and drove to our inn in Vezac. Every turn was straight out of House Hunters International. It was awesome.I had printed Google maps for all of our drives, but managed to get lost the moment that we turned out of the train station and had to bust out my phone. The drive should have taken about an hour and a half, but I kept getting distracted by the scenery and landing us "off of the purple line."Best.Sign.Ever. Eighteen hours later, we arrived in the Dordogne!We checked into our room and ran down the road to search for some food. We found one place willing to serve us. I couldn't read the menu and ordered the only word that I could recognize -- "jambon." When our meal arrived, Andy asked what I got and I replied, "I don't know." But, given that Eiffel Tower gummies were my only meal since the a.m., I didn't care. And it was delicious. Andy took a bite at the end and said, "Oh, it's duck." F. Me. Apparently I eat duck.Exhausted Andy at dinner.[...]

Peacock Bedding


Remember my very vintage bedroom set that I mentioned is hard to decorate around? Well, I recently decided that I am beyond bored with my current bedroom design and I want to redecorate again. But now I have brown curtains to always contend with.

This duvet from Dwell Studios has been on my mind...

{Source: Dwell Studios}

Curses to the price!

Guess What I Did?


I went swimming in a lake. A deep lake!

25 feet deep, to be exact!

I hope that my gigantic balls don't frighten you and you'll still want to be my e-friends. Ha, Ha. I'm going to ignore the fact I was wearing a life jacket and pretend that this isn't something that toddlers do all of the time and just relish my major life accomplishment here.

Vintage Art Score


I wanted to share some quick snaps of some vintage lithographs that I picked up at an antique store in Wisconsin. I had spotted them back in May, but they were pricey, so I decided to sleep on them. I thought I'd be safe since stuff sits in Chicago-area antique stores for months or even years. Big mistake. Someone bought one. Booooo! And the prettiest one, of course.When I got them home, I unwrapped one to show my sister-in-law and, on a whim, decided to search for "vintage paris watercolor" on eBay to see if I could find some other street art that would compliment my set. And, pin this, I found *my* paintings - including the missing one - selling for $149 - $295! Holy smokes. It appears that my prints are designer imposters of some lithograph prints by a somewhat famous street painter named Herbelot. I ended up buying a Herbelot print on ebay for almost the same price as my antique store prints.My eBay Herbelot:I was pleasantly surprised when I cleaning them for hanging and realized that this one was also a Herbelot.  Hooray! My designer imposters by "Christian:"  I have a feeling that they're actually have little value, but I am still excited that there is a little story behind them. Right now, they're being test driven on the living room wall. They'll probably live there in their dinged up, mismatched frames until I scrape together the change to reframe them.[...]

Rainy Day Crafting - Personalized Beer Cozies


I'm up in the Northwoods visiting Aunt Ruth and my in-laws and have been rained in for the past two days. Thankfully, I brought my laptop, my Silhouette, and two bags of craft supplies "just in case." I caught up on some projects that I've been tripping over (literally - the bags were sitting near the craft room/laundry room/bedroom door) for two months now.

I was excited to try the heat transfer material on beer cozies. I bought neoprene cozies on ebay and ironed on the design. I traced a google maps screen shot of the lake in Illustrator and imported the image into Silhouette for cutting.

2007 Italy Trip Album


I used to be fastidious about scrapbooking and album-making, but fell off the wagon in 2007 when I moved in with Andy. Since then I've had a growing list of "projects" to get out of boxes (or my hard drive) and get organized. I'm slowing but surely kicking ass on the list this year.

This weekend, I finished and ordered the blurb book from my 2007 trip to Italy with a friend. I can't wait to see some of these pix in print.

{Gifts, Paper} Gocco Note Cards


I've been dying to get my hands dirty on something other than a mouse, so I busted out the 'ole gocco printer to whip up a fast, personalized present for a friend's birthday party. I had a more elaborate design planned, but the screen didn't burn correctly. I couldn't bare to waste precious gocco supplies like that, so I cropped out the design for a minimalist set of personalized stationary.

I paired the cards with envelopes in an array of preppy colors.

I also included a white gel pen for writing on the dark envelopes and these cute postage stamps that will look great with all of the envelope colors.

In case you're curious, this was my failed design. Andy said he liked the final result better than the intended design.

I considered playing aroud with some washi tape, but decided to quit while I was somewhat ahead.

Not working with the gocco for a few years seems to have voided my memory of what a pain in the ass it can be. I thought this would take me 30 minutes or, you know, an hour and a half. GOCCO! Click here if you'd like to see my Gocco of Years Past.

Orange Bling


OMG! Where have I been? Hint: It rhymes with "jerk." (And with "Turk," if that's your bag.)

If I were getting married today, this Elva Field's necklace would 275% be in the running for my bling. (Even if it meant getting a different dress.) Damn.

{Source: Elva Fields}



This is the best RSVP that I've seen in a while.

{wit & delight via Brooklyn Bride}

I'd get married every year if I could.

Etched Northwoods Wine Glasses


Wine glasses with cute charms aren't the most realistic vessel for drinking on boats and hanging with a two year-old with a mean throwing arm. I made Northwoods-inspired wine glasses for Aunt Ruth's lake house using the process outlined in this tutorial. I swear, I love my Silhouette every more every day. These turned out super cute and were a total hit with our family. I was making these in the middle of the night and working in the dark, as our bedroom door is broken and the kitchen light would have shined right into the bedroom while Andy slept. I didn't realize that I had etching cream on my hand and etched my thumb print onto one of the glasses. Thankfully it wash just my glass.[...]